SATURN 2015: Improving Architectural Refactoring Using Kanban and the Mikado Method (Session Notes)

Paul Boos, Santeon Group

 by Jacob Tate, Mount St. Mary’s University

Paul Boos introduced us to a little Japanese in his talk titled “Improving Architectural Refactoring Using Kanban and the Mikado Method.” These methods have been employed by such companies as Toyota to drastically increase production speed while tracking progress. But how does this translate from assembly lines to software?

Mikado discusses small changes that tend to negatively affect the larger product or architecture. This can be seen frequently in software architecture. Mikado involves the following steps: Make the one change you want, see what breaks, visualize (creating a hierarchical graph), and revert. So the Mikado method teaches architects to embrace the bugs they run into and to use them to improve systems. It is crucial that you keep source code to revert back to throughout this method of implementing code and observing what breaks.

This trial-and-error method has been criticized as being too slow and tedious; this is where Kanban comes in. The basics of Kanban involve tracking your progress in a meticulous and organized fashion so as to control the timing of your Mikado method. This is often graphically represented in the software development field by having a whiteboard on which to draw a Kanban table. These methods of improving your software architecture can be implemented in small teams or even on a large scale (just ask Toyota). Boos finished by taking some questions; in his answers he showed that there are many methods similar to Mikado and Kanban, but that these have been shown to be particularly effective in the area of software architecture.

Follow the conference on Twitter @SATURN_news with the hashtag #SATURN2015.

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